Christian Music News & Reviews
Music Review: TobyMac, "Alive & Transported" Live CD
The DVD portion of the project is a fine addition. Instead of some half-hearted production, the video for Alive & Transported is a quality, widescreen format recording with a vivid picture shot with multiple cameras for several different viewpoints (it does get a little fuzzy on a bigger screen TV, but it still looks pretty good). The only downside to the video is the camera tends to cut much too fast from shot to shot when you might want it to linger a little longer at times. Also, the cameras often zip across the screen in an almost handheld fashion, zooming in and out really quickly, and I actually found myself feeling a bit nauseous while watching some of it. It's unnecessary to have to constantly be cutting from angle to angle and shot to shot, especially when a TobyMac show has plenty going on to keep the viewer's interest. When the band freezes in place for a moment during "Jesus Freak," the cameras continue to zip around frantically nearly kills the moment they're creating. It's more frenetic than it needs to be and it does hurt the DVD somewhat. And it's sad, because the concert otherwise looks fantastic. Still, we get to see the whole experience from the crowd's perspective as well as up close in personal on stage, it's just a shame it's a bit more A.D.D. than it needs to be.
In addition to the show on the DVD, fans are treated to an almost-hour-long documentary about Toby and each member in his band. For the first time, we get an in-depth look at each piece of Toby's team, learn how they met him, and the roles they play off the stage as well as on. We also get a look into Toby's family, his meeting of Otis Clark with a segment talking against racism, life on the road, and what the group does with their time when not on stage. The end reel even includes some fun little side bits like Toby practicing back flips with a pair of tether straps, the guys dealing with a mouse in their dressing room in Iowa (with Gabe-Real standing on a chair), and Shonlock mocking Toddefunk behind his back as he plays XBox 360 on the bus. In some cases, the documentary may be the best part of the DVD. All in all, it's a pretty fine package.
Lastly, the song choice for this show is just about the best of the best from Toby's three albums (Momentum, Welcome To Diverse City, and Portable Sounds). On one hand, for the older songs, these are the third or fourth versions fans are hearing of the same songs - considering Toby's released a couple remix projects after his first two albums. But for those who have enjoyed the live takes in person (which do differ from their originals), here's your chance to have quality recordings of them. The real gems here, however, are the live renditions of songs from Portable Sounds as well as two old dc Talk classics, "In The Light" and "Jesus Freak" - which are TobyMac live show staples. And personally, it's just great to hear Toby's take on "Jesus Freak" finally captured for a new generation of fans. Missing from your usual TobyMac experience is the "Old School Medley," where the band mixes together mainstream classics like "Rollercoaster," "Play That Funky Music," and "We Are Family." Obviously, it'd probably be pretty difficult (if not costly) to obtain the rights to put a mix like that on tape, but it seems a little strange for it not to be included here.
When all is said and done, Alive & Transported is one of the better CD/DVD live recordings you'll find these days. It's a complete live experience, with even Toby's interactions with the audience and Gospel messages included (conveniently tacked on to the ends of tracks so you can skip them if you just want to hear the next song), and it's clear the time and attention to detail that Toby puts into his studio recordings has been delicately applied to his first solo live album. We could have done without the constant quick-cutting in the DVD footage, but TobyMac fans shouldn't miss this collection, while artists looking to record a live project would do best to take some cues from this one if they want to get it right.
- Review date: 5/22/08, written by John DiBiase of Jesusfreakhideout.com
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